An article by Scottish researchers, published in the British medical journal Lancet, says that although people taking statins are nine percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, that risk is outweighed by the drug’s ability to lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
Different studies over the years have reached different conclusions about whether statins increase, decrease, or do not affect the risk of acquiring type 2. Consequently, the scientists at the Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Glasgow conducted a meta-analysis of all the research into statins and type 2 diabetes. They reviewed data from 13 trials, involving more than 91,000 patients, that took place between 1994 and 2009.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found a clear link between taking statins and an increased risk of diabetes. They concluded, however, that the risk is outweighed by the benefits that statins confer. They said that whereas treating 255 patients with statins over a four-year period would result in only one extra case of diabetes, the same group over the same timespan would avoid 5.4 deaths or heart attacks and a similar number of strokes or surgeries for clogged arteries.
Lead researcher Naveed Sattar said that given statins’ beneficial effects, which include lowering bad cholesterol and vascular inflammation, he was surprised by the statins-diabetes link. He speculated that because statins also affect the liver and muscles, which are crucial elements in the body’s creation and metabolization of blood glucose, the link may be found there.
The most common commercial forms of statins are Pfizer’s Lipitor and AstraZeneca’s Crestor.
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